Consumer Bankruptcy (Chapter 7 / Chapter 13)

Q. Do I need a certain amount of debt before I can file bankruptcy?
A. No. However, the decision to file bankruptcy is an important one that should not be taken lightly; therefore, we recommend you contact the Law Offices of Matthew W. Kiverts for a free consultation to discuss your options.

Q. Will the court turn me down if I file?
A. There is no minimum of debt required to file bankruptcy. However, the decision to file bankruptcy is an important one, and one that should be made only after consulting with an experienced bankruptcy attorney. The court could dismiss your case (turn you down) if you lie, do not show up for court dates, or otherwise cooperate. Fraud is another reason for dismissal (i.e. if you hide assets). As long as you cooperate and are open and honest — you will not have a problem.

Q. Will my employer be notified of my bankruptcy?
A. No. Not unless you owe your employer money. Only creditors (people who you owe money) are notified when you file bankruptcy.

Q. Will my landlord be notified of my bankruptcy?
A. No. Not unless you owe your landlord back rent that you are trying to discharge (erase). If this is the case we would list the back rent as a debt and your landlord as a creditor.

Q. Will my name be published in the newspaper?
A. Not likely—especially if you live in the greater Chicagoland area. In this area, only companies filing for bankruptcy protection are newsworthy. Hundreds if not thousands of individuals file bankruptcy week and escape newspaper attention. That said, bankruptcy filings are a matter of public record, and if someone wants to go searching online or through court files, they will be able to learn of your bankruptcy filing (but most people do not care enough to do this).

Q. Will I be forced to close my bank account?
A. No, but you may want to. If you have a credit card with your bank, the bank may freeze your credit card and/or account before you file bankruptcy; or, even after you file bankruptcy. If someone or some company has sued you and obtained a judgment against you (perhaps for a debt that went to collection), your account may be seized; therefore, closing it before they have an opportunity to do so may be the wisest choice.

If you have particular questions about the above, call the Law Offices of Matthew W. Kiverts for a free consultation.

Q. Can my creditors (those I owe money to) stop me from filing bankruptcy?
A. No. You have a right to file for bankruptcy protection and no creditor can prevent you from doing so. However, creditors can object to a specific debt that you are attempting to discharge (erase). One reason a creditor may object is fraud. If you charge a large amount on one of your credit cards, then shortly thereafter and without making any or minimal payments on that debt attempt to include that debt in your bankruptcy, your creditor may object alleging fraud. Your creditor would argue to the trustee and/or court that you should have to repay that particular debt.

Q. Will I be able to get a credit card after I file bankruptcy?
A. Yes. Although the bankruptcy may remain on your credit report for up to ten (10) years, there is nothing that forbids you from obtaining a credit card. In fact, you may be a favorite target of credit card companies, as they know you will not be able to file bankruptcy for another eight (8) years. You will be able to get a credit card as well as a car loan. While the interest rates will not be as good, they are a good place to start when it comes to rebuilding your credit.

Q. Will I be able to get a home mortgage after I file bankruptcy?
A. Generally it will take a couple of years (possibly a bit longer in the current economy) before you will be able secure favorable terms. That said, if you are even contemplating bankruptcy, chances are your credit score is low to very low right now. Bankruptcy is often the best way to get a quick and complete fresh start. Once you have that fresh start/clean slate, the ball is in your court and you can responsibly work to rebuild your credit score.

Q. Will filing bankruptcy hurt my credit score?
A. While your credit score will most likely take an initial hit, after bankruptcy, you will have a clean slate. Without thousands and thousands of dollars of debt hanging over you, you will be able to begin improving your credit score a lot quicker than you might think. The vast majority of people have poor to very poor credit scores going into a bankruptcy; so, for those people, bankruptcy may be the best option, as it allows them the fresh start they are seeking.

Q. Will I be able to improve my credit score if I file bankruptcy?
A. Yes. After bankruptcy, you will have zero debt. What you do from that point on is important. It is important to take reasonable and responsible steps towards improving your credit score. You may want to get a credit card, but keep the credit limit low at first—something manageable. You want to start showing creditors that you are a responsible consumer that will make his/her payments on time and in full. With time, your credit score will improve.

Q. Will I be able to keep my car if I file Chapter 7 bankruptcy?
A. You may keep your car as long as you are current on your car payments and it is insured. As a creditor, your car lender will be informed of your bankruptcy filing; however, you will be able to keep your car as long as you sign a “reaffirmation agreement”, which essentially means that you agree to honor the terms of your lease/finance agreement.

The only way you will not be able to keep a car that you have been making payments on is if it is worth substantially more than you owe on it. This is something you should discuss with an experienced bankruptcy attorney; therefore, contact the Law Offices of Matthew W. Kiverts for a free consultation to discuss your options.

Q. Will I be able to keep my clothes and personal belongings if I file Chapter 7 bankruptcy?
A. Yes. You will almost always be able to keep all of your clothes and personal belongings. Unless, you own a very expensive piece of artwork, coin collection, or something similar, this should not be a concern.

Q. Will I be able to keep my home if I file Chapter 7 bankruptcy?
A. You may keep your home as long as you are current on your mortgage payments and you your home is not worth substantially more than you owe (not likely in this housing market). If you have a lot of equity in the home, you may have to look at filing a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, or you risk losing the home. Chapter 13 bankruptcy is a structured repayment plan which will protect valuable assets such as your home.

Q. I’m married. Do I have to file bankruptcy with my spouse or can I just file myself?
A. You do not have to file with your spouse. You can file by yourself; but, if you and your spouse share many of the same debts (co-signors/co-debtors on the same credit cards / old car notes), you may want to seriously consider filing together. This is something an experienced bankruptcy attorney should discuss with you; therefore, contact the Law Offices of Matthew W. Kiverts for a free consultation to discuss your options.

Q. I have a loan that I co-signed my parent co-signed on. If I file Chapter 7 bankruptcy, can the creditor go after my parent?
A. Yes. The creditor will not be able to come after you, but they will be able to go after your co-signor (see above). That said, you may continue making payments on that loan, despite the fact that it will be included in your bankruptcy, which will keep the creditor happy and away from your parent.

Q. I have a judgment against me. Is it too late to file bankruptcy?
A. Absolutely not. The judgment, with a few exceptions, can be included in a bankruptcy. This is something an experienced bankruptcy attorney should discuss with you; therefore, contact the Law Offices of Matthew W. Kiverts for a free consultation to discuss your options.

Q. My paycheck is being garnished because of a judgment a creditor has against me. Will filing bankruptcy stop the garnishment?
A. Yes. Unless you pay the amount listed in the judgment, your paycheck will continue to be garnished. If you file bankruptcy, that judgment will be included and the garnishment will be stopped.

Q. If I file bankruptcy, will I have to go to court?
A. Yes. One time. You will have to attend the first “meeting of the creditors” where a bankruptcy trustee will be present. You and your attorney will meet with this trustee, who will briefly go over the bankruptcy petition that was filed. Although your creditors are notified of this meeting, they will rarely show up.

If you have any questions or would like our assistance, please contact the Law Offices of Matthew W.Kiverts at (312) 632-1017 for a free consultation. You will speak to an attorney who will take as much time as necessary to answer any questions you may have, and discuss your rights. You may also email us or use our online request form found on this page. We look forward to speaking with you.